Cervical cancer in Cape Verde: reappraisal upon referral to a tertiary cancer centre

17 Nov 2022
Ana Teresa Vilares, Riccardo Ciabattoni, Teresa Margarida Cunha, Ana Félix

Background: Cervical cancer (CC) is the first cause of cancer-related deaths among Cape Verdean women. The absence of a national screening programme and a lack of dedicated cancer treatment facilities contribute to its high mortality rate. In an effort to improve the prognosis of these women, a health cooperation agreement was established between Portugal and Cape Verde (CV), allowing their evacuation to Portuguese hospitals. Our aim was to characterise CC among CV women, and to assess the response given to these patients in Instituto Português de Oncologia de Lisboa Francisco Gentil (IPOLFG), so that their treatment and follow-up protocols can be optimised and overall prognosis improved.

Methods: Retrospective evaluation of women diagnosed with CC in CV that underwent therapy in IPOLFG between 2013 and 2020. Risk factors, demographic and tumour characteristics, treatment and outcomes were reviewed.

Results: Fifty-eight patients were included. Squamous cell carcinoma was the most frequent (91.5%) histological type. HPV DNA was present in 25 out of 26 samples.The agreement rate between the pathology analysis performed in CV and in Portugal was high (87.9%); however, the agreement regarding the FIGO stage was low (15.5%). This may be explained by both the time interval between diagnosis and treatment (around 6 months) and by the absence of resources to accurately stage the disease in CV. In IPOLFG, 77.6% of patients received combined chemo-radiotherapy. Post-treatment follow-up varied widely, due to disease-related and bureaucratic issues. Eighteen patients developed cancer-related complications and/or cancer-related death. The survival rate and median overall survival (OS) in our cohort were of 89.7% and 73.2 months, respectively.

Conclusions: Although most women had advanced-stage disease, the OS in our cohort was better than what has been reported for other African countries, probably because state-of-the-art treatment, frequently not accessible in those countries, was offered to all patients.

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